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Pakistan and Kashmir inseparable: army chief

Pakistan and Kashmir inseparable: army chief

ISLAMABAD: Kashmir once again took the centre stage in the troubled bilateral ties between Pakistan and India with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif reminding Delhi that Kashmir was Pakistan’s ‘inseparable part’ after the Indians objected to the coming polls in Gilgit-Baltistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Speaking to participants of a course at the National Defence University on Wednesday, Gen Sharif said: “Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of partition, Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable.”

The army chief’s remarks reflect the hardening of positions in the stalemated relationship.

The peace dialogue between the two countries has been on a standstill since January 2013 because of the exchanges on the Line of Control and Working Boundary.

“While we wish peace and stability in the region, we want Kashmir’s just resolution in the light of UN resolution and as per aspirations of Kashmiris to bring lasting peace in the region,” the army chief said.

The comments followed back to back statements from Delhi first objecting to the CPEC route passing through Azad Kashmir and then questioning polls being held in Gilgit-Baltistan on June 8.

Kashmir has always been the main source of contention between the two neighbours. But terrorism overtook the agenda of the bilateral contacts, particularly after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The trend, however, appeared to be reversing following the installation of the hardline BJP government last year and the focus returning on Kashmir.

India immediately reacted to Gen Sharif’s statement through its junior minister for external affairs retired Gen V.K. Singh.

“I think this is the notion they will keep harbouring. They can keep harbouring that wrong notion. It will not make any difference to actual conditions,” Gen Singh said.

Pakistan’s political and military leadership have also stepped up their accusations against Indian intelligence agency RAW for its alleged role in promoting terrorism in Pakistan.

Gen Sharif in his lecture at the NDU vowed to foil those plots.

“The contours of future war are fast changing. While our enemies are supporting terrorism to stoke sub conventional conflicts and destabilise our country, we are fully determined and capable of defeating their nefarious designs,” he said without naming India.

The corps commanders had at their last conference directly accused RAW of “whipping up terrorism in Pakistan”.

Pakistani officials say Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s remark that “terrorists have to be neutralised only through terrorists” had confirmed their fears.

The army chief, who along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had visited the ISI headquarters for formulating a strategy against ‘RAW threats’, said Pakistan would not permit any other country to use proxies against it.

PRIME MINISTER: Meanwhile, in a related development Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Abdul Basit, who had been called back by the government for consultations, briefed the prime minister on the rising tensions.

“Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Mr Abdul Basit briefed the PM on the state of Pakistan-India relations with particular reference to latest developments,” a statement from the PM Office said.

Following the meeting, Mr Sharif said Pakistan was keen to develop good relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality as well as mutual respect and interest.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2015

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